The University of Arizona Equestrian Western team experienced continued success from last season with their most recent competition: the Western IHSA (Intercollegiate Horse Show Association) Show and Regionals. For the second time in the University of Arizona Equestrian team history, they both qualified to represent our region at semi-finals, which, for the Western team, will be held March 17 and 18 at West Virginia University, near Morgantown, VA. Our western team, alongside three individual riders, placed against Cal Poly (defending regional champions), UCLA, UCSD, and Mt. San Antonio College. UA hosted this event at Al-Marah Equine Center.
The Western Team's results, under the tutelage of coach and trainer Sheryl Gonnsen, include:
- Kaitlyn Dirkschneider: 1st place
- Andie Lacher, Agribusiness Economics & Management and Agricultural Tech Management & Education Major - CALS, 2nd place
Open Horsemanship -
- Kaitlyn Dirkschneider, Animal Sciences Major - CALS, 1st place in both rounds
- Andie Lacher, Agribusiness Economics & Management and Agricultural Tech Management & Education Major - CALS, 2nd and 4th place
- Abrielle Agron, Mathematics and Pre-Computer Science Major - College of Science, 3rd and 5th place
- Nicole Jablon, Veterinary Science Major - CALS, 4th place
- Marlena Long, Animal Sciences Major - CALS, 2nd place (competed in Regionals in intermediate horsemanship, placed 4th)
Intermediate I Horsemanship
- Nichole Maurice-Johnson, Animals Sciences Major - CALS, 3rd and 5th place
Intermediate II Horsemanship
- Megan McCauley, Animals Sciences Major - CALS, 2nd place
- Norielle Ziemann, Animals Sciences (CALS) and Psychology (College of Science) Major, 1st and 2nd place (due to placement in regionals, she will be attending semi-finals)
- Megan Hanson, Animal Sciences and Business Administration Major - CALS, 5th and 6th place (qualified individually for Novice horsemanship)
- Emma Koprowski, Animal Sciences Major - CALS,1st place in both rounds (qualified individually for Advanced horsemanship)
Beginner/Walk Trot Horsemanship
- Michael Johnson, Criminal Justice Studies and Pre-Law Thematic Major - 3rd place in both rounds
- Rachel Mason, Nutritional Sciences Major - CALS, 1st and 5th place
- Angela Riccelli, Veterinary Science and Sports Management Major - CALS, 4th place in both rounds
UA's equestrian team rides for an organization called IHSA, which utilizes a system called, "catch riding." The idea behind this, and what makes it unique, is that riders will choose the horse they're to ride essentially from a hat, meaning there is no warm up, and potentially no relationship between the two, prior to them competing. Thus, it is a true test of horsemanship, as they will have to direct the horse via skill versus relationship and repetition of the patterns prior to the competition. In addition, the collegiate equestrian experience stands out among other competitions due to one main thing: teamwork.
"In the typical equestrian competitions, riders compete individually to get the highest score out of the class. What makes the collegiate equestrian experience unique is the teamwork," says senior, Emma Koprowski. "We compete as a team in hopes of getting the highest team score possible. This score is based on each individual's score and is then combined into an overall team score. IHSA is about great sportsmanship... It includes every little thing from helping each other get dressed in the proper attire, to running through the patterns, ironing out little details and mentally preparing each other."
The close-knit Western Team is very excited to compete together in the semi-finals come this March. Pictures of their qualifying performances can be found below.
Junior Norielle Ziemann's showing off at the extended trot on Sweetheart during her 2nd place ride at Regionals, qualifying her for the Individual Intermediate Horsemanship at Semi-finals (Photo credit: Brittany Ebel)